Consultation questions as farmers hit by pipeline closure


SNP Westminster Agriculture spokesperson Eilidh Whiteford MP has demanded greater consultation by the UK Government with the agricultural industry over a decision to close a pipeline connecting one of the country’s major gas terminals for three weeks which leaves Scottish farmers out of pocket.

Dr Whiteford has written to the UK Energy & Climate Change Secretary asking whether input was sought from the farming industry in the decision to shut down the pipeline between St Fergus Gas Terminal and Fife for three weeks from 25 August.

Alternative supplies during this period only available from refineries in England at an extra cost of between 2.5 and 5ppl.

The Banff and Buchan MP met with farmers at Turriff Show in her constituency this week where concern was voiced that the closure will coincide with grain-drying operations when peak-demand from farmers will be reached, adding extra costs to what is already likely to be a more expensive process due to the wet summer.

Dr Whiteford said:

“I’ve been in communication with senior management at St Fergus and the distributors, Avanti Gas.  It seems that the date for this shutdown, which is for essential work to be carried out and only the third total shutdown in the plant’s history, was agreed with DECC in January 2011.

“The question which must be asked now is, did DECC seek the views of the Scottish farming industry in reaching a decision on this date?

“While summer may be an obvious time to shutdown as it means a low demand from domestic gas users, shifting the closed period by only a few weeks would have made a big difference to Scottish farmers, who are now facing increased costs as a result.

“I’ll be raising the issue with the UK Energy Secretary to ensure that the agriculture industry is consulted on any such future plans.”